Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Lifestyles

June 25, 2012

PLEASANT HILL RAMBLINGS: Mitchell inspires others to read with open mind, heart

CROSSVILLE — One of the perks of living in this lovely part of Cumberland County is meeting the people who have lived here all of their lives and are so much a part of the rich history of the Pleasant Hill area. One such person is Jym S. Mitchell, who has written poetry and short stories since junior high school.

His first collection of poems, Dilemmas, was published in 2011. This latest anthology, Simple Dreams, published the beginning of June, is already into its second printing. This collection includes poetry in myriad forms and prose giving the reader glimpses into the lives of characters — sometimes sad, sometimes playful, but always meaningful. There are multiple themes covered but threaded throughout the book are musings from the victim’s point of view dealing with racism, anti-Semitism, homophobia, bullying, feminism, chauvinism, and mysticism.

In Mitchell’s note to his readers he urges, “Certain characters and narratives are real, while others came strictly from my active imagination. To the reader, it shouldn’t matter which is which as long as you’re reading with an open mind and an open heart.”

When I asked him where his ideas come from, Mitchell smiled and said that when he can’t sleep in the middle of the night, the words pour out as if they must escape his mind and be written down. Sometimes they are there in the morning when he awakes. Although he has not traveled extensively, the voices often come from other times and other places. When he reads those selections out loud, he takes on the persona — the accent, the inflections, the feelings of the character.

Many of the poems and stories are of his youth, the farm, the ranch, the horses, the cows, his parents, his siblings, his friends, even his enemies. The barn, stable and corral are empty now, the family home burned to the ground in 2000. Mitchell still lives on the property, his home fronted with exotic plants, grandparents’ gravestones (no graves however), the family lintel. The driveway is marked by a well-weathered mailbox, all artifacts brought from Grassy Cove, his mother’s birthplace.

Pleasant Hill is not the way it used to be either as the Academy’s buildings have been razed, Dr. May’s Homestead House destroyed, some buildings moved to other places or abandoned, trees fallen or taken down. Mitchell’s words bring them to life again.

Sherdie Kemmer Mitchell and her husband, Herman Eugene Mitchell Sr., were the parents of six sons and two daughters, all of whom still live in the Pleasant Hill area except David, who lives in Indiana, and Herman Mitchell Jr., who died in 1978. Mitchell Sr., before he passed away, broke horses and raised cattle on 96 acres of land on Lake Road, as well as tending the Uplands water plant.

The last born child, some of Mitchell's most endearing poems refer to his close relationship with his mother who died in 2009. The cover of Simple Dreams depicts their home in a painting by Mitchell’s brother-in-law, Bob England. After his first book was published, to his surprise, Mitchell became a minor celebrity almost over night in the town and county where he grew up often feeling like an outsider. He has received calls from strangers who relate to his subjects.

His eighth grade teacher, Carol V. James, herself the author of the book, Schooled, contacted him and invited him to a writer’s group in Crossville.

James wrote, “Jym has lived an unusually intense life that has given him great empathy for fellow humans that even his poems based on fictitious characters and experiences, he has only imagined are hauntingly genuine.”

Mitchell has become a regular participant in the monthly Pleasant Hill Writers’ Group as well as the Crossville group. He was contacted by a member of the Tennessee Holocaust Commission and asked to read his poem, “A Ghastly Dream” at their Day of Remembrance held at the Back Door Playhouse in Cookeville on May 1, 2011. The Crossville Chronicle has published poems of his on special occasions. A most unusual situation occurred when his niece passed a complete stranger reading Dilemmas in Myrtle Beach, NC. The positive way people have reacted to his writing has given him the self-confidence to continue his writing.

The Shanks Center for the Arts, 140 North Main St. in Crossville, has asked to sell his books in their gift shop. You may contact Mitchell at 277-3427 as he welcomes your questions or comments. The expressed goal of his writing is “to make people think.” As you read his work, you cannot help but think of your own life, people you have known, situations you wish you could change and more — so in that case, he has succeeded.

***

Reminder: The monthly $1 bag sale will take place at The Grab thrift store, 1944 West Main St. in Pleasant Hill, on Saturday, June 30 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

1
Text Only
Lifestyles
  • Habitat-Group photo-Crisp Dedication .jpg Habitat celebrates 55th home dedication

    Anne Crisp is excited that she and her two daughters have a home to call their own. Cumberland County Habitat for Humanity (CCHFH) dedicated the 55th home to be built in partnership with low-income families. Crisp put more than 500 hours of "sweat equity" into her home and has completed 50 hours of self-improvement, where she attended classes on budgeting, home maintenance and good neighbor among others.

    July 28, 2014 2 Photos

  • Gypsy Rose to visit Fair Park

    The Cumberland County Playhouse is currently performing the award-winning Broadway play “Gypsy.” A great American story set during the 1920s fading vaudeville circuit, "Gypsy" portrays the rise of famed burlesque performer and stage mother Gypsy Rose Lee as she journeys across the country with her mother and sister during a time when Vaudeville was dying and burlesque was born. The complex character of Rose could be described as bold and brassy, as she steamrolls everyone in her way to turn her daughters June and Louise into child stars.

    July 28, 2014

  • plateau gardening-springBlooms4361.jpg Match August garden tasks to plant biology

    During all seasons in temperate climates like ours the greenery around us is changing. New shoots appear and leaves pop out of swollen buds after spring rains.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Pleasant Hill Ramblings.jpg Landis reunites with Japanese teacher

    There is a special lady living in Pleasant Hill who spent 42 years of her life in Sendai, Japan, teaching English at a Japanese Christian school and as a missionary with the United Church of Christ Board for World Ministries.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Lion of Year.jpg Lions Club recognizes Lion of the Year

    Charles Loveday, charter member of the Crossville Lions Club, was recognized as the Lion of the Year at the annual installation of officers picnic July 8. Loveday earned this award for his service as first vice president, membership chairman, eye glass chairman and his help with fundraisers and other matters where needed. From left are Loveday and President Gary Laura.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • 8-8 counseling center-play with dolls.jpg Christian Counseling Center celebrating 12 years

    Help the Christian Counseling Center of Cumberland County (C5) celebrate 12 years of community service. Dine at Ruby Tuesday of Crossville Aug. 8, 9 or 10. Print the flyer from the center’s website, www.cccotp.org, and give it to the server.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • A Time 4 Paws collecting shoes to help Soles4Souls in fight against global poverty

    Attention anyone with a closet! Those shoes no longer wanted are desperately needed to fight the human tragedy of global poverty.

    July 24, 2014

  • Parkinson’s therapies help patients live big and loud

    Parkinson’s disease has famously affected the lives of celebrities like Michael J. Fox and Muhammad Ali. But whether a person with Parkinson’s is world famous or a next-door neighbor, new therapies are offering hope for a better quality of life.

    July 22, 2014

  • 8-5 CATS in Palace-Carole Jarboe Cullen - waterfall.jpg Local art event planned at CATS

    Plans are being made for an event sponsored by the CATS Gallery at the Palace Theatre, 72 South Main St., Crossville, Tuesday, Aug. 5, beginning at 6 p.m. There will be refreshments, music and an opportunity to view a performance painting by artist Chuck Jensen. A live auction of donated art pieces will begin at 7:30 p.m. with the opportunity to "Be a Cool Cat — Buy Local Art." There is free admission, but it is advisable to get a free ticket at the CATS Gallery in the middle section of the Crossville Mall, at the Palace Theatre or from any participating member of CATS. During the event, original art items including paintings, photographs, and jewelry will be offered for auction, such as this expressive waterfall painting by Carole Cullen.

    July 22, 2014 1 Photo

  • Marriage licenses (Published July 23, 2014)

    July 22, 2014